Shorten Absence Durations by Helping Employees Return to Work Safely and Efficiently
Safe Returns to Work
Avoidable absences include medical absences that last longer than is actually necessary for the employee’s health. Following prevention and response, the final component of an effective absence management strategy is to work with medically absent employees to safely and efficiently return them to work as soon as possible.
In cases of medical absence that last longer than 14 days, 50 % of the time the employee never returns to work. This is regardless of whether it is an occupational or non-occupational medical absence. Many of these situations are avoidable with an early medical intervention that ensures effective treatment and focuses on getting them back to their job, even if in a modified capacity.
Many organizations only engage a medical resource as a last resort when an absence has gone on for a long time. This process is called an Independent Medical Assessment, and it focuses on validating the treating physician’s assessment. WMC believes this is too late, and often creates an adversarial atomosphere when the focus should on on the employee’s health and recovery.
An early medical intervention, called a Time Loss Review, creates greater clarity early in the process and offers a much better chance for a successful return to work for employee while reducing the likelihood of a confrontational atmosphere. Employers can have a positive impact on the employees return to work if they get involved early, and this proactive stance in your absence management can shorten the duration of many medical absences.
The Return to Work Plan
Typically the employee’s treating physician is unfamiliar with the work environment of the employee, and therefore unfamiliar with work options available to the employee that will help them return to work. An early medical intervention involving someone who understands the work environment creates the opportunity for more options to help the employee return to work sooner.
WMC, with our Time Loss Review, can assist the employee and employer in building an appropriate Return to Work Plan (RTW). The RTW Plan includes all the steps to get an employee safely back to work. It begins with their treatment and rehabilitation, modified duty options, work hardening, and finally full fitness for original duties. Well-implemented Return to Work plans create an efficient and safe process to assist the employee returning to work. They promote the long-term health and well-being of the employee, while creating an opportunity to shorten the time the employee’s absence, and reducing the chances of being on the wrong side of 50%.